Presidential Race Hots Up in Montenegro

Author : Mircea Birca | Monday, March 4, 2013
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After the incumbent, Filip Vujanovic, launched his campaign late last week in Bar, his main rival, Miodrag Lekic will hold his first election convention in Niksic on Monday.Billboards that went up in the capital, Podgorica, on Friday, showing a smiling Vujanovic dressed casually in a beige sweater and white shirt, marked the start of the campaign for the presidential election due on Apil 7.

Montenegro’s current head of state started his bid for a third presidential mandate on Friday at election conventions in the coastal town of Bar, where he accused his main rival of having opposed the restoration of Montenegro’s independence in 2006.

“In an interview given only seven months before the [independence] referendum, Lekic said that the state union [with Serbia] was our future,” he said.

Vujanovic also said he would always be a partner and constructive critic of the government, unlike Lekic, who, by calling for a new technical temporary government, seemed out to destabilize the country.

After visiting Bar, on Sunday and Monday Vujanovic was set for a two-day visit to the southeastern resort town of Ulcinj, where most of the population is ethnic Albanian.

Lekic will launch his campaign on Monday in Montenegro’s second largest town of Niksic, where a local election is being held on March 9.

Following the failure of the opposition to form the authority there after the October 2012 local elections, the town’s residents will cast their ballots again.

Lekic, although leader of the largest opposition formation in Montenegro, the Democratic Front, is running as an independent candidate.

However, the opposition Socialist People’s Party, SNP, and the most influential opposition media all support his bid.

Rade Bojovic, head of political club Righteous Montenegro, is another potential candidate.

But, unlike Lekic and Vujanovic, who managed to pass the threshold of over 7,500 signatures and have their candidacy verified by the State Electoral Commission, Bojovic is still struggling to join the race.

The start of the campaign was marked by controversies over Vujanovic’s candidacy, as he is now serving a second term as President, after being re-elected in 2008, and the 2007 Constitution stipulates that the same head of state can be elected only twice.

The Constitutional Court, however, ruled that his candidacy was constitutional, as the country only regained independence in 2006, and Vujanovic, who was first elected president in 2003, is thus only now completing his first full term as President of an independent country.

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